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Topic: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) data gives new insights into Black Holes devouring Stars

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Supermassive black holes, with their immense gravitational pull, are notoriously good at clearing out their immediate surroundings by eating nearby objects. When a star passes within a certain distance of a black hole, the stellar material gets stretched and compressed — or “spaghettified” — as the black hole swallows it.

A black hole destroying a star, an event astronomers call “stellar tidal disruption,” releases an enormous amount of energy, brightening the surroundings in an event called a flare. In recent years, a few dozen such flares have been discovered, but they are not well understood.

This illustration shows a glowing stream of material from a star as it is being devoured by a supermassive black hole in a tidal disruption flare. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration shows a glowing stream of material from a star as it is being devoured by a supermassive black hole in a tidal disruption flare. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft data solves the mystery of Pluto’s moon Charon’s red region

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In June 2015, when the cameras on NASA’s approaching New Horizons spacecraft first spotted the large reddish polar region on Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, mission scientists knew two things: they’d never seen anything like it elsewhere in our solar system, and they couldn’t wait to get the story behind it.

Over the past year, after analyzing the images and other data that New Horizons has sent back from its historic July 2015 flight through the Pluto system, the scientists think they’ve solved the mystery.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft captured this high-resolution, enhanced color view of Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, just before closest approach on July 14, 2015. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the spacecraft's Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC); the colors are processed to best highlight the variation of surface properties across Charon. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured this high-resolution, enhanced color view of Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, just before closest approach on July 14, 2015. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the spacecraft’s Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC); the colors are processed to best highlight the variation of surface properties across Charon. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

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NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory detects first X-Rays from Pluto

 

Written by Molly Porter
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Scientists using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have made the first detections of X-rays from Pluto. These observations offer new insight into the space environment surrounding the largest and best-known object in the solar system’s outermost regions.

While NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft was speeding toward and beyond Pluto, Chandra was aimed several times on the dwarf planet and its moons, gathering data on Pluto that the missions could compare after the flyby. Each time Chandra pointed at Pluto – four times in all, from February 2014 through August 2015 – it detected low-energy X-rays from the small planet.

The first detection of Pluto in X-rays has been made using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in conjunction with observations from NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/JHUAPL/R.McNutt et al; Optical: NASA/JHUAPL)

The first detection of Pluto in X-rays has been made using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in conjunction with observations from NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft.
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/JHUAPL/R.McNutt et al; Optical: NASA/JHUAPL)

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NASA Air Mission to Survey/Study the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A NASA airborne mission designed to transform our understanding of Earth’s valuable and ecologically sensitive coral reefs has set up shop in Australia for a two-month investigation of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest reef ecosystem.

At a media briefing today at Cairns Airport in North Queensland, Australia, scientists from NASA’s COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) mission and their Australian collaborators discussed the mission’s objectives and the new insights they expect to glean into the present condition of the Great Barrier Reef and the function of reef systems worldwide.

Bleached and stressed coral on the Great Barrier Reef. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/BIOS)

Bleached and stressed coral on the Great Barrier Reef. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/BIOS)

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NASA’s THEMIS spacecraft observes Earth’s vibrating Magnetic Field

 

Written by Lina Tran
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The majestic auroras have captivated humans for thousands of years, but their nature – the fact that the lights are electromagnetic and respond to solar activity – was only realized in the last 150 years.

Thanks to coordinated multi-satellite observations and a worldwide network of magnetic sensors and cameras, close study of auroras has become possible over recent decades. Yet, auroras continue to mystify, dancing far above the ground to some, thus far, undetected rhythm.

An artist’s rendering (not to scale) of a cross-section of the magnetosphere, with the solar wind on the left in yellow and magnetic field lines emanating from the Earth in blue. The five THEMIS probes were well-positioned to directly observe one particular magnetic field line as it oscillated back and forth roughly every six minutes. In this unstable environment, electrons in near-Earth space, depicted as white dots, stream rapidly down magnetic field lines towards Earth’s poles. There, they interact with oxygen and nitrogen particles in the upper atmosphere, releasing photons and brightening a specific region of the aurora. (Emmanuel Masongsong/UCLA EPSS/NASA)

An artist’s rendering (not to scale) of a cross-section of the magnetosphere, with the solar wind on the left in yellow and magnetic field lines emanating from the Earth in blue. The five THEMIS probes were well-positioned to directly observe one particular magnetic field line as it oscillated back and forth roughly every six minutes. In this unstable environment, electrons in near-Earth space, depicted as white dots, stream rapidly down magnetic field lines towards Earth’s poles. There, they interact with oxygen and nitrogen particles in the upper atmosphere, releasing photons and brightening a specific region of the aurora. (Emmanuel Masongsong/UCLA EPSS/NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover takes images of Rock Outcrops on Mars

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The layered geologic past of Mars is revealed in stunning detail in new color images returned by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, which is currently exploring the “Murray Buttes” region of lower Mount Sharp. The new images arguably rival photos taken in U.S. National Parks.

Curiosity took the images with its Mast Camera (Mastcam) on September 8th. The rover team plans to assemble several large, color mosaics from the multitude of images taken at this location in the near future.

Curiosity got close to this outcrop on Sept. 9, 2016, which displays finely layered rocks. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Curiosity got close to this outcrop on Sept. 9, 2016, which displays finely layered rocks. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft on it’s way to asteroid Bennu

 

Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s first asteroid sampling mission launched into space at 7:05pm EDT Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, beginning a journey that could revolutionize our understanding of the early solar system.

“Ee celebrate a huge milestone for this remarkable mission, and for this mission team,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We’re very excited about what this mission can tell us about the origin of our solar system, and we celebrate the bigger picture of science that is helping us make discoveries and accomplish milestones that might have been science fiction yesterday, but are science facts today.”

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft was launched into space at 7:05pm EDT Thursday, September 8th from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (NASA)

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft was launched into space at 7:05pm EDT Thursday, September 8th from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (NASA)

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NASA’s ISS-RapidScat instrument being looked at after two power anomalies

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama, are assessing two power system-related anomalies affecting the operation of NASA’s ISS-RapidScat instrument aboard the International Space Station. RapidScat measures surface wind speeds and directions over the ocean.

RapidScat is currently deactivated and in a stable configuration. A RapidScat project anomaly response team has been formed, working in conjunction with the space station anomaly response team. RapidScat will remain deactivated as the investigation continues.

Artist's rendering of NASA's ISS-RapidScat instrument (inset), which launched to the International Space Station in 2014 to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction and help improve weather forecasts, including hurricane monitoring. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Johnson Space Center)

Artist’s rendering of NASA’s ISS-RapidScat instrument (inset), which launched to the International Space Station in 2014 to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction and help improve weather forecasts, including hurricane monitoring. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Johnson Space Center)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captures Nebulae image that looks like starship Enterprise

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the TV series “Star Trek,” which first aired September 8th,1966, a new infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope may remind fans of the historic show.

Since ancient times, people have imagined familiar objects when gazing at the heavens. There are many examples of this phenomenon, known as pareidolia, including the constellations and the well-known nebulae named Ant, Stingray and Hourglass.

Here is the nebulaes seen by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Here is the nebulaes seen by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft images reveals Dunes on Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New scenes from a frigid alien landscape are coming to light in recent radar images of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

Cassini obtained the views during a close flyby of Titan on July 25th, when the spacecraft came as close as 607 miles (976 kilometers) from the giant moon. The spacecraft’s radar instrument is able to penetrate the dense, global haze that surrounds Titan, to reveal fine details on the surface.

This synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) image was obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on July 25, 2016, during its "T-121" pass over Titan's southern latitudes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Université Paris-Diderot)

This synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) image was obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on July 25, 2016, during its “T-121” pass over Titan’s southern latitudes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Université Paris-Diderot)

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